Wave of lower cost e-readers coming: are they all junk?
July 30, 2010 | 7:15 am
TechCrunch has a piece looking at the new low-cost tablet and e-reader devices planned by Copia (as well as a Copia iPad app). We’ve covered Copia before; the readers’ “gimmick” is supposed to be a unique social-networking component to the devices, allowing readers to exchange reviews and recommendations about books. They recently announced new pricing on their devices.
Another TechCrunch writer uses the opportunity to suggest that we are seeing a repeat of the pricing race to the bottom that happened with netbooks: everyone is coming out with cheap devices, and most of them will be junk. John Biggs writes:
I don’t think ereaders can survive the race to the bottom. They serve a far too specific purpose to last very long and, unlike netbooks, there are no virulent pro-junk ereader owners out there. At best they’re indifferent and at worst they’re disappointed by the ebook selections available to them.
Meanwhile, Read Write Web reports that Sony isn’t necessarily going to continue to trade shots with Amazon and Barnes and Noble (and, for that matter, Borders with the Kobo) as they participate in an e-book reader price war.
"Pricing is one consideration in the dedicated reading device marketplace, but Sony won’t sacrifice the quality and design we’re bringing book lovers to lay claim to the cheapest eReader," said Phil Lubell, VP of Digital Reading at Sony Electronics.
It’s easy to see the low prices for tablets and similar devices as heralding the arrival of a load of cheap junk (see the pieces on the Augen “smartbook” and tablet that Kmart is ostensibly carrying). But on the other hand, there was a similar wave of “cheap” e-book readers back when the Kindle and Nook were priced higher, occupying the price range that the Kindle and Nook devices are in now (though most of them have since disappeared from view).
It might just be that by the time the cheap devices currently occupying that niche go away, the “name brand” readers will be ready to take over that price point, too.